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New British offensive delivers gains
60-pounder guns of the Royal Garrison Artillery in action just west of Monchy, 11 April 1917 Photo: © IWM (Q 2018)

New British offensive delivers gains

Paris, 12 April 1917 - The British army has made sweeping gains in the second battle of Arras.

Monchy, a village near the city of Arras, has been captured and this is considered an important strategic victory.

It is thought that German soldiers had orders to defend these key positions ‘at all costs’, but their efforts have proved in vain. Thousands of German soldiers are reported to have died in the fighting as the Allies advanced.

The operations are being directed by Sir Douglas Haig and the retreat of German troops has been swift and comprehensive. Central to the operation has been the intensive bombardment from artillery. One British soldier told Reuters News Agency: ‘No human being could stand the bombardment the Germans have had this month.’

The offensive is taking place amid heavy snow due to the unusually prolonged and severe winter.

L: Gen. Douglas Haig in a recent portrait (Image: Illustrated London News, 21 April 1917) R: Map of the Hindenburg and Switch lines on the western front. Click to enlarge. (Image: Manchester Guardian History of the War. Full collection available from the National Library of Ireland)

There are reports that the Hindenburg line has been broken, but this has been denied by Germany. The Germans have conceded the loss of Monchy, however, although they claim to have downed a number of planes that the Allies were using in the area.

An Irish battalion, acting alongside Canadians, is reported to have been instrumental in the capture of the Vimy ridge by storming a nearby hill known as ‘The Pimple’.

The simultaneous French artillery attack at Aisne is described by the Germans as ‘fire unprecedented in duration, mass, and intensity’.

The offensives together have taken the northern and southern pivots of the German line.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.